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October 18, 2023
There is no shame in taking a weight loss drug or fat burner supplement. Whether you want to shed a few pounds before summer or transform your body, losing fat can be difficult. Two of the best and most popular weight loss medications available are Ozempic and Mounjaro.
While both injectable medications help regulate blood sugar levels and lead to significant weight loss, key differences separate the two. In this article, we will dive into the research to break down Mounjaro vs. Ozempic.
Table Of Contents
Ozempic is a popular brand-name version of the weight loss drug with the active ingredient semaglutide. Semaglutide is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist, a class of medications that helps regulate blood sugar levels by lowering blood glucose.
When the body senses food intake, it releases GLP-1, which triggers the pancreas to secrete insulin and decrease glucagon release. Insulin helps glucose enter the cells to be used for energy, lowering blood sugar. Glucagon, on the other hand, increases blood sugar levels, so both actions work to control blood sugar, a key element of diabetes and weight loss management.
Semaglutide also helps slow the rate at which food leaves the digestive system, leading to a gradual absorption of nutrients. This also helps stabilize blood sugar levels and reduces appetite by keeping you feeling full longer. In higher doses, Ozempic and semaglutide can also reduce appetite.
Ozempic received FDA approval in December 2017, nearly five years after being created by the Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk.
Although Ozempic was created to help control blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus, clinical trials showed that Ozempic also caused significant weight loss in the participants, and new evidence suggest they may even help with high blood pressure. However, Ozempic is only FDA-approved to improve glycemic control and reduce the risk of cardiovascular events in patients with type 2 diabetes
Despite not being FDA-approved for weight loss, it is commonly prescribed off-label in patients who are obese or overweight. Another injectable version of semaglutide, Wegovy, in contrast, is FDA-approved for chronic weight management. It's delivered in a slightly higher dose and also produced by Novo Nordisk, as is the daily oral tablet Rybelsus, with similar approval and off-label usage to Ozempic.
Mounjaro is a brand-name medication with the active ingredient tirzepatide, containing two gut hormones, or incretins, that increase insulin secretion in response to eating.
Mounjaro is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), the active ingredient in Ozempic, and glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) receptor agonists. Glucose-dependent insulinotropic peptide (GIP) works very similarly to GLP-1 in that it triggers an increase in insulin secretion and a decrease in glucagon to help lower blood sugar levels. GIP also stimulates fatty acid synthesis, affecting our fat cells and where fat is deposited, which makes it even better for weight loss. Studies have shown that GIP and GLP-1 have a synergistic effect on glycemic control and weight loss than each compound individually. (1)
The first dual GIP/GLP-1 receptor agonist, or twincretin, was created by the American-based Eli Lilly and Company. After passing three clinical trials, Mounjaro was FDA-approved in October 2021 to improve blood sugar control in patients with type 2 diabetes. Similarly to Ozempic, Mounjaro is commonly prescribed off-label to help promote weight loss in overweight or obese patients. (2)
Considering that the active ingredient in Ozempic is also in Mounjaro, they have several similarities. In this section, we will explore the difference between Ozempic and Mounjaro.
Semaglutide and tirzepatide work quite similarly because they are both gut hormones responsible for improving glycemic control in response to glucose intake (eating).
One significant difference is that GIP is secreted from K-cells in the upper small intestine (upper gut), whereas GLP-1 is secreted from L-cells in the lower small intestine and colon (lower gut). Aside from where they are released, the actions of the hormones are very similar, stimulating an increase in insulin secretion and a decrease in glucagon. An increase in insulin causes a decrease in blood sugar levels, which helps stabilize blood sugar levels in patients with diabetes. It also helps promote weight loss because it helps glucose enter cells to be used for energy.
Secondly, semaglutide and tirzepatide decrease glucagon, a hormone that prevents glucose from entering the bloodstream. This further improves glycemic control and, as a result, helps promote weight loss. Thirdly, both medications slow gastric emptying, which helps prevent spikes in blood sugar and allows nutrients to be absorbed gradually. This feature helps reduce appetite and improve satiety, making you feel full for longer.
Lastly, Ozempic and Mounjaro help reduce appetite, benefiting those seeking weight loss. The primary difference between semaglutide and tirzepatide is that semaglutide only activates the GLP-1 receptors, whereas tirzepatide has dual action on both GLP-1 and GIP.
Regarding Mounjaro vs. Ozempic for weight management, research shows that Mounjaro is more successful thanks to its dual action on both receptors.
We mentioned above that semaglutide and tirzepatide synergize when combined, like in Mounjaro, compared to GLP-1, like in Ozempic. The clinical trials SURMOUNT, SURPASS, and STEP were conducted to compare the effectiveness of weight loss with Mounjaro vs. Ozempic. STEP-2 resulted in an average body weight reduction of 9.6% on the maximum semaglutide dose of 2.4 mg. SURPASS-2 reduced body weight by an average of 13.1% simultaneously on the maximum dose of Mounjaro of 15 mg.
Also, in STEP-2, the results showed that 69% of users on 2.4 mg of semaglutide (maximum dose) had at least a 5% reduction in body weight, and 26% had at least a 15% reduction. In the SURPASS-1 trials with Mounjaro, 77% of users on 15 mg (maximum dose) lost at least 5% of body weight, while 27% lost at least 15%. (3)
Anecdotal evidence tends to support the findings from clinical trials and various studies, with most users leaning towards Mounjaro.
In the sub-Reddit r/Mounjaro, the thread "My experience with Mounjaro vs. Ozempic" highlights users' success. The original poster stated, "Mounjaro has been better for me in every way," before listing several advantages of Mounjaro.
Of note, they posted, "I have zero side effects with Mounjaro. With Ozempic, I had frequent digestive issues, diarrhea and constipation, a little bit of nausea, and low energy." They also highlighted the improvement in appetite, posting, "The appetite suppressant effects of Mounjaro are as good, probably better. I literally never think of food and only eat to fuel myself." (source)
There are several other threads with similar findings. Still, certain people may prefer Ozempic depending on individual reactions. The evidence is undeniable that Mounjaro leads to more significant weight loss than Ozempic due to its dual action on the GLP-1 and GIP receptors.
Like weight loss, Mounjaro is slightly more effective than Ozempic at treating type 2 diabetes. Studies have shown that tirzepatide has a greater affinity to the GIP receptors than to the GLP-1 receptors, leading to greater insulin secretion and a more significant drop in blood sugar.
The STEP and SURPASS trials also measured hemoglobin A1c (HbAc1), the amount of blood sugar attached to hemoglobin. Healthy individuals have an HbAc1 between 4-5.6%, 5.7-6.4% is prediabetes, and 6.5% or higher is diabetes. STEP-2 showed an average drop in HbAc1 of -1.6% on 2.4 mg of semaglutide, while SURPASS-2 showed a drop of -2.3% on the maximum dose of tirzepatide.
Similarly, 67.5% of patients in STEP-2 achieved the goal of lowering their HbAc1 to under 6.5%, whereas tirzepatide achieved 87% in SURPASS-2. (4) This shows that tirzepatide is slightly better at improving blood sugar control than semaglutide and, therefore, is better for patients with type 2 diabetes.
Ozempic and Mounjaro have very similar dosing and administration protocols, as both are once-weekly subcutaneous injections. Both medications can be administered at any time, with or without food, as long as it's the same day of the week.
Ozempic comes in pre-loaded pens, available in a 0.25 mg starter dose for the first month, 0.5 mg for a maintenance dose starting week 5, then higher doses of 1.0 mg and 2.0 mg as needed. Diabetics will usually stay on Ozempic for life or as long as they need to control their blood sugar, whereas users seeking weight loss stay on until they reach their goals.
Mounjaro comes in single-use, pre-filled pens that are color-coded, including 2.5 mg, 5 mg, 7.5 mg, 10 mg, 12.5 mg, and 15 mg. Beginners start with the 2.5 mg dose for the first month, then increasing to a maintenance dose of 5 mg. They generally stay at 5 mg for at least four weeks and increase as needed until they achieve the desired results.
Users should never exceed the maximum dose of each medicine, 2.0 mg, and 15 mg, respectively, to avoid dangerous side effects.
Since Mounjaro and Ozempic work similarly and both affect the gut, their side effects are nearly identical, primarily all minor gastrointestinal issues. Follow up with your healthcare professional if you experience side effects.
Common side effects of Mounjaro and Ozempic:
Ozempic rare side effects:
Mounjaro rare side effects:
Some people who should avoid taking Ozempic include those with:
Some people who should avoid taking Mounjaro include those with:
Based on prices from 2023, the average cost of Ozempic is roughly $916 or higher for a monthly supply without insurance. A one-month supply of Mounjaro is listed at $1,023.04 directly from Eli Lilly, but most people pay around $1,000.
Luckily, there are copay savings cards and other affordable methods for those with insurance. With insurance, you can find both Ozempic and Mounjaro starting around $25 a month in the United States. These medications are much cheaper worldwide, with countries like Sweden, France, Australia, and the United Kingdom offering them at roughly one-tenth of the price in America.
Although Mounjaro has a slightly higher price tag, studies have shown it is more cost-effective than Ozempic. Using prices from October 2022, the study determined that the cost to lower body weight by 1% is roughly $985 with Mounjaro compared to $1,845 with semaglutide. (5)
There is limited research on using semaglutide and tirzepatide together, so there are differing opinions.
There are no drug interactions between the two medications, so there wouldn't be any chemical reactions from mixing them. However, most experts discourage combining them.
Experts suggest that mixing medications increases the risk of side effects and severe or rare complications. Anecdotal evidence is also divided, but that should be taken with a grain of salt because this is more of a chemical composition question rather than individual feeling.
You should consult with a doctor or healthcare professional regarding mixing medications, as only they should determine it. While some people can handle both medications without experiencing adverse side effects, we recommend picking one medication and sticking with it rather than using both.
These are some of the most commonly asked questions related to Ozempic and Mounjaro.
Mounjaro is safe for long-term use and is commonly prescribed for long-term use. Ongoing clinical trials are studying the long-term effects of Mounjaro for two years.
Mounjaro slowly begins to help blood sugar levels after the first injection. However, it usually takes around four weeks to reach a steady level in the body. You will likely lose a few pounds in the first week.
You may notice a suppressed appetite as soon as week one or two, but it typically takes at least four weeks to suppress appetite.
No, Mounjaro is not semaglutide. However, Mounjaro belongs to the same class of medications as semaglutide called GLP-1 receptor agonists.
Semaglutide users typically experience side effects in the first month of use or when the dose is increased until the body gets used to it. Side effects usually only last a few weeks and should subside once the body builds a tolerance.
No, ozempic injections do not hurt. They are small pricks, usually done in the upper arm, thigh, and stomach. Injection site reactions occurred in less than 1% of users in studies. Users should rotate body parts during each injection to avoid irritation.
When it comes down to it, there is a slight edge to Mounjaro for both glycemic control and promoting weight loss.
While both medications are effective and similar, Mounjaro has been proven more effective for blood sugar regulation in patients with diabetes and for patients seeking weight loss. Considering the cost is similar (Mounjaro is far more cost-efficient to lose weight) and the side effects are roughly the same, most people prefer Mounjaro due to the slight advantages of weight loss and glycemic control.
Regardless of your choice, we encourage you to speak with a doctor and follow the dosing protocol to maximize results and avoid side effects.
To learn more about semaglutide compared to other similar medications, check out our article: Liraglutide vs. Semaglutide: Uses, Differences, and Results.
Rizvi, Ali A, and Manfredi Rizzo. "The Emerging Role of Dual GLP-1 and GIP Receptor Agonists in Glycemic Management and Cardiovascular Risk Reduction." Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Targets and Therapy, vol. 15, 5 Apr. 2022, pp. 1023–1030, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8994606/, https://doi.org/10.2147/DMSO.S351982.
Pelle, Maria Chiara, et al. "Role of a Dual Glucose-Dependent Insulinotropic Peptide (GIP)/Glucagon-like Peptide-1 Receptor Agonist (Twincretin) in Glycemic Control: From Pathophysiology to Treatment." Life, vol. 12, no. 1, 25 Dec. 2021, p. 29, https://doi.org/10.3390/life12010029.
Jung, Han Na, and Chang Hee Jung. "The Upcoming Weekly Tides (Semaglutide vs. Tirzepatide) against Obesity: STEP or SURPASS?" Journal of Obesity & Metabolic Syndrome, vol. 31, no. 1, 30 Mar. 2022, pp. 28–36, https://doi.org/10.7570/jomes22012.
Thomas, Melissa K, et al. "Dual GIP and GLP-1 Receptor Agonist Tirzepatide Improves Beta-Cell Function and Insulin Sensitivity in Type 2 Diabetes." The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 24 Nov. 2020, https://doi.org/10.1210/clinem/dgaa863.
Azuri, Joseph, et al. "Tirzepatide versus Semaglutide for Weight Loss in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Value for Money Analysis." Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, 27 Dec. 2022, https://doi.org/10.1111/dom.14940.
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